Kerry Asks Netanyahu to Avoid Further Escalation in Gaza

U.S. secretary of state offers to broker cease-fire between Israel and Hamas; stresses Israel's right to self-defense but expresses concern at escalating tension on the ground.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The United States is willing to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on the basis of the November 2012 agreement that ended Operation Pillar of Defense, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening, according to a senior U.S. official.

The secretary condemned the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, the official said, and stressed Israel's right to self-defense. At the same time, he asked Netanyahu to avoid further escalation.

"The secretary highlighted the American concern at escalating tension on the ground," the official said.

Kerry updated Netanyahu about his contacts with national leaders in the region, in an attempt to assist in halting the rocket fire from Gaza, preventing civilian casualties and restoring calm.

Kerry is due to meet with his French, German and British counterparts on Sunday evening to discuss the attempts to promote a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The meeting will take place in Vienna, where the ministers are attending nuclear talks with Iran.

On his arrival at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on Sunday, where the talks are taking place, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that achieving a cease-fire and avoiding a further escalation in Gaza are the issues at the top of France's agenda.

"France is calling for a return to the ceasefire of November 2012," Fabius told reporters.

Speaking earlier, British Foreign Minister William Hague said that "there is an urgent need to stop the violence in Gaza and return to the cease-fire of November 2012."

Addressing reporters before the arrival of the ministers in Vienna, a senior American official said that discussions about the situation in Gaza would take place on the fringes of the Iranian negotiations.

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